Who is Responsible for Enforcing Smoke-Free Laws in Ellisville, Mississippi?

Smoking bans are public policies, including criminal laws and occupational safety and health regulations, that prohibit smoking tobacco in certain spaces. The United States Congress has not attempted to enact any type of federal prohibition at the national level of smoking in workplaces and public places, so such policies are entirely a product of state and local laws. During periods of active smoking, maximum and average levels of outdoor tobacco smoke (OTS) measured in outdoor cafés and patios of restaurants and bars near smokers rival indoor tobacco smoke concentrations. More and more Mississippi cities are voting to go smoke-free every year, recognizing the value it brings to residents and visitors.

The owner, manager, operator or employee of an area regulated by this law will order the person who smokes in violation of this law to turn off the product being smoked. According to the Surgeon General's report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease, even occasional exposure to second-hand smoke is harmful, and low levels of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke cause a rapid and abrupt increase in dysfunction and inflammation of the lining of blood vessels, which are implicated in heart attacks and strokes. In the other ten states, cities and counties have enacted more stringent smoking laws than state ones, and in some cases, they prohibit smoking in all enclosed workplaces. Instead, the laws of most of these states (see the lists of individual states below for more information) require owners of certain places to designate smoking and non-smoking areas and to post warning signs.

In Oklahoma and Virginia, state laws prohibit local governments from regulating tobacco use more strictly than in states, making these states among the fewest states in the country where no smoking bans have been legislated. Many California communities have established smoke-free registrations for private residential apartment buildings, ranging from complexes where smoking is completely prohibited (whether inside or outside private homes) to those where certain sections of homes can be designated smoking housing. Business owners have no legal or constitutional right to expose their employees and customers to the toxic chemicals in second-hand smoke. In Connecticut, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, state law prevents local governments from enacting stricter smoking bans than state ones, although some cities and counties in some of those states have enacted local versions of the state's smoking ban.

Following an evaluation of the health hazards of Las Vegas casino employees' exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace - which included indoor air quality testing and biomarker evaluations - the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded that casino employees are exposed to dangerous levels of second-hand smoke at work and that their bodies absorb high levels of specific tobacco chemicals - NNK and cotinine - during work shifts. Both the jail and the administrative offices are workplaces and must be smoke-free in each and every indoor area. In reviewing eleven studies that concluded that communities see an immediate reduction in admissions for heart attacks following the implementation of comprehensive anti-smoking laws, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies concluded that the data consistently demonstrate that exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks - and that anti-smoking laws reduce heart attacks. Less than twenty feet away from entrances, operable windows and ventilation systems in enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited must be kept clear to prevent tobacco smoke from entering those areas.

So who is responsible for ensuring that these laws are enforced? Ultimately it is up to local law enforcement agencies to make sure businesses comply with local ordinances. Business owners should also be aware that they can be held liable if they fail to enforce no-smoking policies on their premises.

Delores Clower
Delores Clower

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